How to Put Out a Lawn Mower Fire

If you have a lawnmower fire, it’s essential to know what to do next.  This blog post will teach you how to put out a lawn mower fire so that you can avoid any potential danger or property damage. The first step should always be shutting off the fuel and removing the spark plug wire from your lawnmower. Then, if there is a gas can nearby, pour that on the fire as well.

How to Put Out a Lawn Mower Fire

Next, use a garden hose or bucket of water to put out any remaining flames. Lastly, check for any damage around the area that caught on fire and ensure no combustible materials are left behind near your lawnmower. Continue reading this blog post to learn the detailed step-by-step instructions.

What Causes Lawn Mower to Catch Fire?

1. Gasoline Leaking Into the Air Filter:

If the lawnmower runs out of gas, it will emit a white cloud of smoke upon restarting. The engine may continue to run rough or die after that even if it has enough fuel. If this happens, the air filter is likely clogged with gasoline vapors causing the engine to run lean. This can lead to very high combustion temperatures and eventually melt the plastic air intake box. To prevent this, refuel your lawn mower before it becomes low on gas.

2. Foreign Objects Blocking Airflow:

Causes Lawn Mower to Catch Fire

Tallgrass can be challenging for a lawnmower engine to process because the blades are spinning so fast that they create suction that pulls grass into the air intake. If there is a stick or other object blocking part of the air intake, that suction force will increase and cause the engine to overheat and catch fire.

Be sure to clear any debris from around your lawnmower before you start it up. Never use a leaf blower to clean solid objects like rocks and sticks away from your lawnmower.

3. Clogged Muffler:

The muffler may become clogged with oil and grease that has dripped out of the engine compartment, causing excessive pressure in the combustion chamber. This can ignite grass and leaves stuck in the muffler or even cause a spark when you start the mower.

If this happens, the heat may cause the muffler to soften and fail to release toxic gases into your engine compartment. Therefore, always clean out the clogged muffler before starting up your lawnmower after it has sat for a while.

4. Fuel Hazards:

Adding gasoline to the mower with a higher-than-recommended octane level or mixing two different fuel types, such as gas and ethanol, can cause an engine to run too hot since the wrong ratio of air and fuel is entering the combustion chamber. Likewise, never use non-rated gasoline in your lawn mower if it isn’t specifically meant for it. If you do this, then the engine may run too lean and catch fire.

5. Sparking Plug:

A faulty or incorrectly installed spark plug can create a large enough spark to ignite any oil residue that has fallen out of your lawnmower’s muffler, causing the entire engine compartment to ignite. If this happens, quickly disconnect the spark plug wire and let the engine compartment cool down.

6. Loose or Damaged Capacitor:

The capacitor is responsible for helping to start the ignition process in your lawnmower’s engine. If it fails, the current will not be adequately discharged, and an arc across open points on the wiring harness may ignite grass and leaves. While it is unlikely this will happen, always check your lawnmower’s wiring harness and capacitor before you start it up. If you notice any damage or loose connections, have a professional fix it before using the mower.

7. Overheated Engine:

Lawnmower engines can get very hot, especially if they are not properly maintained or used for extended periods. If the engine gets too hot, it can ignite anything flammable around it. To prevent this, always make sure to take breaks and let your lawnmower cool down if you notice it getting too hot.

How to Put Out a Lawn Mower Fire: Seven Methods to Apply

1. Shut Off the Engine:

Shut off the mower’s engine immediately if your lawnmower catches fire. Then, turn the ignition switch to the off position and pull the spark plug wire off of the spark plug. This will ensure that you do not accidentally restart your lawnmower while attempting to put out a fire. It’s also important to remember not to use water on a gasoline fire, as it can spread the flames.

2. Smother the Fire:

Smothering your lawn mower’s engine fire with a handheld fire extinguisher or wet grass may be an effective way to put out a fire while avoiding potential injury. If you choose the latter, soak the surrounding grass with water from a garden hose and then attempt to extinguish the fire with a handheld extinguisher. The wet grass will help to prevent the fire from spreading. The best option is to use an ABC or BC fire extinguisher designed for gasoline and electrical fires.

3. Douse the Flames:

Dousing your lawn mower’s engine fire with baking soda or dry chemical powder is another effective method. Use a fire extinguisher and remain at a safe distance to avoid any potential injury associated with an engine fire. But, if no fire extinguisher is available, use baking soda or dry chemical powder to douse the flames. You can also use dirt or sand if that’s all that is available.

4. Open the Fuel Line:

If possible, open your lawnmower’s fuel line or remove the gas tank from your mower before attempting to smother or douse the flames. This will ensure that the fire does not spread to the gas tank and cause further damage.  It’s also important to remember that gasoline fires can reignite if not completely extinguished, so be sure to check for any remaining sparks or flames. The best way to do this is by using a thermal imaging camera or feeling for any remaining heat with the back of your hand (do not touch the hot surface with your palm).

Use a Fire Extinguisher At a Safe Distance

5. Cut Off Oxygen:

Suppose you cannot put out your mower’s fire with a handheld extinguisher, dry chemical powder, or baking soda, so use sheet metal cutters to cut off the oxygen intake in the engine compartment. This will prevent the flames from reigniting when any of these methods fail. Remember to always wear protective gloves and eye protection when handling sheet metal cutters. However, keep in mind that this method should only be used as a last resort.

6. Remove Flammable Items:

Remove any flammable items from around the engine to remove any available fuel source for the fire. This may include gasoline or oil containers, grass clippings, and old mower blades. The less fuel available for the fire, the easier it will be to put out. You should also try to create a fire break by digging a trench around the fire to prevent it from spreading. The more space you can create between the fire and any potential fuel sources, the better.

Disconnecting the Spark Plug Wire From Mower's Engine

7. Disconnect the Spark Plug Wire:

If you have successfully smothered or doused your lawn mower’s engine fire, wait a few minutes to ensure that it has been effectively extinguished before disconnecting the spark plug wire from the mower’s engine. This step is critical as there may still be a potential for a spark and further damage. Once the fire is completely out, you can safely reconnect the spark plug and attempt to start your lawn mower again. Remember to always take proper precautions when dealing with a lawn mower fire and never attempt to put it out if it is too large or out of control. Immediately call 911 for emergency assistance if the fire is too large to handle on your own.

Following these safety tips on how to put out a lawn mower fire and regularly maintaining your lawnmower can help prevent engine fires from occurring. It’s important to always be cautious, aware of potential hazards, and prepared to handle any emergencies that may arise while using your lawn mower. By taking the necessary precautions, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable mowing experience every time. 

Lawnmower Fire Safety Tips:

  1. Do not attempt to extinguish a lawnmower fire while the engine is running, as this may cause further injury.
  2. If possible, disconnect your lawnmower’s spark plug wire and shut off its engine before attempting to extinguish the fire.
  3. Ensure that you have adequate protective equipment if your lawnmower is stopped in a dry or grassy area.
  4. Do not attempt to extinguish the fire by throwing dirt, sand, or other materials onto the fire as this may spread it further and cause extensive damage to your property.
  5. Never pour water onto an existing fire with your lawnmower engine still running, as you may damage the engine.
  6. Regularly clean your lawnmower’s engine compartment and muffler to prevent buildup of flammable materials.
  7. Keep a fire extinguisher or a bucket of sand/soil nearby when mowing in case of emergency.
  8. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper fuel usage and maintenance to avoid potential hazards.
  9. If you suspect any issues with your lawnmower’s engine, have it inspected and repaired by a professional before using it again?
  10. Always keep children and pets at a safe distance when mowing to prevent any accidents or injuries.
  11. Be cautious of where you store your lawnmower, making sure it is away from any flammable materials such as gasoline or oil containers.
  12. If you do experience a lawnmower fire, contact the proper authorities for assistance and do not attempt to restart the mower until it has been inspected and deemed safe by a professional.
  13. Take preventive measures such as installing spark arrestors or using only recommended fuel types to reduce the risk of potential fires.
  14. Stay vigilant while mowing, being aware of any unusual smells or noises coming from your lawnmower that may indicate a potential issue.  Overall, it is important to always prioritize safety and be prepared for any potential accidents while operating a lawnmower. By following these tips and regularly maintaining your equipment, you can greatly reduce the risk of a fire occurring and ensure your own safety and that of those around you. 

Is It Safe to Use a Fire Extinguisher on an Engine Fire? 

Yes, it is safe to use a fire extinguisher on an engine fire. However, it is important to remember that not all fire extinguishers are suitable for all types of fires. It is recommended to use an ABC or BC fire extinguisher specifically designed for gasoline and electrical fires when attempting to put out a lawn mower engine fire. These types of extinguishers contain dry chemical powder or baking soda, which are effective in smothering and putting out flames caused by flammable liquids or electrical components. 

It is also important to use a fire extinguisher at a safe distance from the fire, as recommended by the manufacturer’s instructions, to avoid any potential injury. If you are unsure about using a fire extinguisher or if the fire is too large to handle on your own, it’s best to call 911 for immediate assistance. Safety should always be the top priority when dealing with any type of emergency situation.  In conclusion, knowing how to properly put out a lawn mower engine fire and taking necessary precautions can greatly reduce the risk of potential accidents and ensure a safe mowing experience every time. 

You can now confidently handle any lawn mower engine fire and keep your property and loved ones safe. Remember to regularly maintain and inspect your lawn mower, follow safety tips, and be prepared for any potential emergencies. Happy mowing! 

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: How Common Are Lawnmower Fires?

A: According to the National Fire Protection Association, an average of 22,500 lawnmower fires occur annually in the United States. The majority of these fires are caused by a build-up of debris or oil in the mower’s engine compartment. The good news is that by following proper safety measures, the risk of a lawnmower fire can be significantly reduced. The key is to be aware and take preventative measures. 

Q: Can a Lawnmower Catch Fire Without Warning?

A: While there are often warning signs such as unusual noises or smells coming from the mower’s engine, lawnmowers can catch fire without any prior warning. This is why it is important to regularly inspect and maintain your lawnmower to prevent any potential hazards. You should also always be prepared for emergency situations by having a fire extinguisher or bucket of sand/soil nearby when mowing. It is better to be safe than sorry. 

Q: How Can I Prevent a Lawnmower Fire?

A: Proper maintenance and usage of your lawnmower can greatly reduce the risk of a fire. Regularly cleaning out debris from the engine compartment, following the manufacturer’s instructions for fuel usage and storage, and inspecting your mower for any potential issues can all help prevent a fire from occurring. Additionally, being cautious and prepared while mowing can also greatly reduce the risk of a fire. Overall, taking preventive measures and staying vigilant are key to preventing lawnmower fires.

Q: What Should I Do If My Lawnmower Catches Fire?

A: First and foremost, make sure to prioritize your safety and the safety of those around you. If possible, turn off the mower’s engine and disconnect the spark plug wire before attempting to extinguish the fire. Use a fire extinguisher or baking soda to smother the flames, and if necessary, call for professional assistance. Do not attempt to restart the lawnmower until it has been inspected and deemed safe by a professional.

Q: How Often Should I Inspect My Lawnmower for Potential Hazards?

A: It is recommended that you inspect your lawnmower before each use and perform regular maintenance checks every few months. However, if you notice any unusual noises or smells coming from the mower’s engine, it is important to stop using it immediately and have it inspected by a professional before using it again. Taking the time to regularly maintain and inspect your lawnmower can greatly reduce the risk of potential hazards. 


The best way to put out a lawnmower fire is by using the correct extinguisher. If you do not have an extinguisher, use water or sand and spray it on the burning area until the flames are gone. While the best way to put out a lawnmower fire is with water and sand, you should never use gasoline or other flammable liquids.

If your lawnmower has recently been refueled, be sure to wait at least one hour before putting it back into service. For more information on how to put out a lawn mower fire, read this full blog. So that you could use this information if something unexpected happens.

Check out our article How to Install Lawn Mower Mulcher Door

Angela Ervin

Angela Ervin

Angela is the executive editor of DIY quickly. She began her career as an interior designer before applying her strategic and creative passion to lifestyle and home. She has close to 15 years of experience in creative writing and online content strategy for housekeeping, home decorations as well as other niche efforts. She loves her job and has the privilege of working with an extraordinary team. She lives with her husband, two sons, and daughter in Petersburg. When she's not busy working she spent time with her family.

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